One of the most frustrating experiences a born-again will encounter is trying to talk sense to a self-professed Christian who is not born again. Jesus felt the same way about most of Jews of his day, and referred to them as “the blind leading the blind”. His advice to his followers was just to let these people fall into the ditch, if that’s where their blindness led them.
And yet, these same self-professed “Christians” dominate online discussion boards and forums today, spreading their half-baked lies to non-Christians who have no way of knowing they’re lies.
One of their pet topics (and my pet peeves) is that you only need to “believe in Jesus” (whatever that means) and you’ll be “saved” (again, whatever that means). Furthermore, they claim that nearly everyone will get to heaven (except, say, Hitler) because Jesus did all the work for us, and all you have to do is proclaim “I’m with Jesus!” and God will let you through the pearly gates.
Nothing could be more wrong.
Jesus railed at the Jews who assumed that they had a guaranteed ticket to heaven based on having Abraham as their Father (meaning, based on being Jewish). He also told the parable about how people were shocked when they found out they hadn’t made it to heaven, because after all they’d eaten at the Lord’s table and even performed miracles. They’d figured just showing up once a week for Church services and being able to channel some ‘greater power’ was proof positive that their name was on the guest list at the post-Judgment Day wedding feast.
I’ve gone over this in previous blog entries, but it bears repeating. Over and over and over again, I see that so many people who consider themselves Christians have a profoundly lax notion of what it takes to make it to heaven. They’ve lowered the bar so far now that, according to them, you don’t even have to identify as a Christian to make it to heaven. You just have to exist.
The arguments today align with the arguments in Jesus’ time and are based on someone else having done all the work for you, so you’re off the hook and good to go. Contrast this do-nothingness (usually referred to as “having faith”) with Paul throwing himself body and soul into several grueling years of non-stop evangelizing that ended only because he was executed. Paul based his approach on Jesus’ own extreme dedication and work ethic, which Jesus summed up as “those who endure to the end will be saved”.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t see a whole lot of endurance going on in the rank and file of today’s Christians. I see a lot of assumptions, presumptions, fake faith and unquestioning embracing of what Jesus would have called doctrines of devils. The book of Revelation clearly says that we’ll be judged by our works. Jesus says we’ll be judged by every word we speak and that those who endure to the end will be saved. This makes it pretty clear (at least to me) that even though I’m born again, I’m not yet ‘saved’ (because I haven’t yet reached “the end”). Nor do I have a guaranteed ticket to heaven, if I’m to be judged by my works and my words. The judging comes AFTER the works and words are done, not during the speaking and doing of them. So where did this notion of getting to heaven just by ‘existing’ as a self-professed Christian come from?
Spiritual and intellectual laziness.
Choosing to believe lies instead of consulting scripture or talking to God.
I have no politeness when it comes to people who misrepresent God’s truth because they’re too lazy to learn what the Bible actually says. It was people like these who turned me off Christianity when I was an atheist. They came across as such hypocrites. These are the people God referred to as being “lukewarm” church members, the ones he’s going to spew out of his mouth. He then warns them to repent, and hopefully they’re listening.
After dealing with these types online and in real life, I now understand why Jesus advised his followers just to ignore them. It was for the sake of his own sanity that he stopped beating his head against that particular wall. Those who truly want to know the truth will eventually come to know it, while those who are happy with being told ‘sweet little lies’ will likely never know the truth, and that’s their choice. And that’s life.
In the meantime, keep Jesus always as your example of how to live and die. There is no such thing as a retired minister of God or a retired follower of Jesus. Born-agains keep doing God’s will and God’s work until they’ve breathed their last, just like Jesus and Paul. I don’t know about you, but I can’t imagine NOT wanting to do God’s will and God’s work until the very end. What else is there to do?